Maria Kallio may have taken herself out of the Helsinki police, but she finds when she’s confronted with another murder that she can’t take the detective out of herself.
No longer an officer with the Violent Crime Unit but not quite a lawyer yet either, Maria has moved in with math student Antti Sarkela while he works on his dissertation in the Tapiola region of Espoo. The setting may be idyllic, but the people aren’t. When Antti brings Maria to a party given by the family his sister has married into, the vibe is awkward since the Hänninens are still mourning their daughter and sister Sanna, who drowned last spring shortly after downing serious quantities of alcohol and prescription drugs. Sanna’s brother Kimmo has gotten engaged to Armi Mäenpää, a chatty nurse with boundary issues. So Maria isn’t looking forward to having a heart-to-heart with her the day after the party. She’s got nothing to worry about, though, because by that afternoon Armi is dead, strangled, presumably by someone who was worried about her big mouth. Ignoring the fact that she’s no longer with the police, Maria makes the rounds of the obligatory suspects—mostly members of Kimmo’s family—from Kimmo’s father, Henrik, a businessman who’s distant in more ways than one, to his much older half brother Risto, an engineer whose marriage won’t bear close scrutiny. There’ll be a trip to an S&M club Kimmo frequented and a climactic confrontation in which even the killer can’t resist pointing out that Maria’s no longer wearing a badge or carrying a gun.
A routine whodunit in the mold of Christie and Sayers, both of whom are cited. Only Maria, outspoken and matter-of-fact, stands out from the crowd.